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Mike Melvoin

Mike Melvoin is a respected L.A.-based accompanist of many years standing. If the name is familiar to you (it was not to me), it may be from some '60s Contemporary sessions with Leroy Vinnegar. But for most of his career, according to his own remarks in the notes, jazz seems to have been a side enthusiasm to his journeyman day-work as an all-purpose pop writer/arranger. As leader of this nicely crafted duo with Charlie Haden, the results are modest but unobtrusively satisfying as wee-small-hours music full of lingering, languorous tempos that occupy time without filling it with a great deal that is especially aggrandizing. In short, the work of a fine accompanist. That Melvoin has capabilities beyond what dominates most of this CD is suggested in the opening tune, "Bud's Open," and a later original called "52nd Street." Both have sufficient mid-tempo velocity to reveal an attractive mainstream swing and an easy but precise fluency of phrase. There is also a nice smokefilled-room blues called "Blues For Leroy" that, after a long Haden intro, moves through some intriguing single-note patterns from one end ofthe keyboard to the other. Featured on three tunes is Bill Henderson, a singer in the Joe Williams vein who can move easily between blues and standards. In an intimate setting such as this, however, his large voice sounds out of proportion to the otherwise soft and discreet accompaniment. His entrances sometimes have an almost jarring effect upon the relative stillness. This is a small CD without pretense to any larger purposes. The fact that Capitol gets top billing over the players refers only to the fact that the 1999 session was made in the studios. Downbeat August 2000

Mike Melvoin? Never heard of him was my, and will probably be your immediate reaction. But he's certainly paid his dues, playing organ on Pet Sounds, piano on Lennon's 'Stand by Me' and even on 'ABC' by the Jackson 5 (now whatever became of them?). Although Melvoin knew Charlie Haden, he had moved from New York to LA in '62 and hadn't played with him 'til this session. Essentially the old friends jammed in the studio, recording some 25 tracks in all, 13 of which made it to the final album. Their friend Bill Henderson, who stopped by the session, is featured on vocals on three tracks. It's a measure of how good this recording is that some way into the instrumental introduction to the second number 'I Think I Know', as Henderson's voice enters, I jump. Time and time again, even though I know it's coming this entry gets me. It's so tangible, so real and in the room, the shock value doesn't diminish. The set is expansive and easy going, the few rough edges just add to the easy atmosphere. The two standout tracks for me are the slightly showbizzy aforementioned 'I think I Know', and the gorgeous walking bass backed 'Blues for Leroy: 9 minutes 15 seconds of sheer pleasure. What more could you ask? Hi Fi Plus

Chances are you've never heard of the master Los Angeles studio musician Mike Melvoin. But chances are virtually nil that you've never heard him play keyboards, which he's done with everyone from Frank Sinatra to John Lennon to the Beach Boys. Melvoin's name could get a lot more familiar, too. — Bill Beuttler, Boston Globe

Melvoin’s pianistics are rich and involving, with shades of romanticism … his interpretive skills are top notch. — Phil Gallo, Daily Variety

There aren't many contemporary songwriters whose tunes are worthy of being included in the Great American Songbook, but Melvoin is one of the notable exceptions.” — William Grim,